Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS7563355 B2
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 12/074,842
Publication dateJul 21, 2009
Filing dateMar 6, 2008
Priority dateMar 19, 2004
Fee statusPaid
Also published asDE102004032260A1, DE102004032260B4, EP1577423A2, EP1577423A3, EP1577423B1, US20050205418, US20080226953
Publication number074842, 12074842, US 7563355 B2, US 7563355B2, US-B2-7563355, US7563355 B2, US7563355B2
InventorsWalter Graf, Michael Weigand, Robert Glier, Renate Glier
Original AssigneePerma-Tec Gmbh & Co. Kg
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Cell for gas generation
US 7563355 B2
Abstract
A cell for gas generation is provided, particularly for the operation of a lubricant dispenser. The cell has two electrodes to be connected to a circuit containing a power source, and an aqueous electrolyte fluid located between the two electrodes, containing an azide having the formula XN3, for electrochemical generation of a gas containing nitrogen (N2). The electrolyte fluid contains a magnesium salt as an additive, for chemical binding of hydroxide ions that are formed during the electrochemical reaction.
Images(4)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(15)
1. A method for gas generation comprising:
(a) providing a circuit comprising a power source;
(b) connecting first and second electrodes to said circuit; and
(c) providing an aqueous electrolyte fluid between said electrodes comprising an azide having a formula XN3 for generation of a gas containing nitrogen in an electrochemical reaction, said electrolyte fluid containing a magnesium salt for chemical binding of hydroxide ions formed during the electrochemical reaction.
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the azide comprises sodium azide.
3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the magnesium salt comprises magnesium sulfate.
4. The method according to claim 2, wherein the magnesium salt comprises magnesium perchlorate.
5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the magnesium salt comprises magnesium sulfate.
6. The method according to claim 1, wherein the magnesium salt comprises magnesium perchlorate.
7. The method according to claim 1, wherein the magnesium salt is added stoichiometrically or in excess with regard to the amount of azide.
8. The method according to claim 1, further comprising an anti-freeze agent added to the electrolyte fluid.
9. The method according to claim 8, wherein the anti-freeze agent comprises a member selected from the group consisting of ethylene glycol, dimethyl sulfoxide, and mixtures thereof.
10. The method according to claim 1, wherein the electrolyte fluid contains nickel sulfate to prevent a hydrogen over-voltage of one of said first and second electrodes that forms a cathode.
11. The method according to claim 1, wherein the electrodes comprise steel.
12. The method according to claim 11, wherein the electrodes comprise chrome-nickel steel.
13. The method according to claim 1, wherein the electrodes comprise graphite.
14. The method according to claim 1, wherein the electrodes comprise plastic with embedded graphite powder.
15. A method for operating a lubricant dispenser, said method comprising:
(a) providing a circuit comprising a power source;
(b) connecting first and second electrodes to said circuit;
(c) generating gas by providing an aqueous electrolyte fluid between said electrodes comprising an azide having a formula XN3 for generation of a gas containing nitrogen in an electrochemical reaction, said electrolyte fluid containing a magnesium salt for chemical binding of hydroxide ions formed during the electrochemical reaction; and
(d) metering the amount of lubricant that is dispensed by the lubricant dispenser by means of the generated gas, whereby the pressure produced due to the generated gas causes a corresponding exit of lubricant from the dispenser.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Applicants claim priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 of German Application No. 10 2004 013 593.2 filed Mar. 19, 2004 and German Application No. 10 2004 032 260.0 filed Jul. 3, 2004. Applicants also claim priority under 35 U.S.C. 120 because this is a Divisional Patent Application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/076,530 filed Mar. 9, 2005 now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a cell for gas generation, particularly for the operation of a lubricant dispenser, having two electrodes to be connected to a circuit containing a power source, and an aqueous electrolyte fluid located between the two electrodes, containing an azide having the formula XN3, for electrochemical generation of a gas containing nitrogen (N2).

2. The Prior Art

In practice, it is known to meter the amount of lubricant that is dispensed by a lubricant dispenser by means of a gas-generating cell, whereby the pressure produced using the gas causes a corresponding exit of lubricant from the dispenser. In this connection, the generation of hydrogen or oxygen at the electrodes of a galvanic cell is known, for example from DE 35 32 335 C2. The cell can itself supply a sufficiently great voltage, if necessary with a zinc anode for generating hydrogen, or with a manganese dioxide cathode for generating oxygen. In this way, the electrolyte stream that flows between the electrodes can be regulated by way of an externally adjustable resistor. In addition, a battery can also be provided, which makes better regulation of the current intensity possible.

A gas cell is known from the reference DE 692 26 770 T2, wherein nitrogen is formed from a sodium azide solution, by means of electrolysis. In the electrolysis of an aqueous sodium azide solution, the gas generation rate quickly drops with the increasing formation of nitrogen. This gas generation rate drop arises because the hydroxide ions that are formed during the reaction result in a great increase in the pH of the solution, as the following reaction equation shows:
2NaN3+2H2O→3N2+H2+2 NaOH

At high pH values, the formation of free nitrogen does not take place, and only water is decomposed. Usual buffer substances, e.g. phosphates, are unsuitable for solving this problem, since their buffering capacity is too low.

An improvement is possible, by means of adding potassium iodide and potassium thiocyanate, but these are substances that behave aggressively with regard to metals, so that accordingly, precious metals or graphite electrodes must be used.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a cell having the characteristics described initially, which has a good gas generation rate.

These and other objects are achieved in accordance with the invention, by a cell for gas generation in which the electrolyte fluid contains a magnesium salt as an additive, for chemical binding of hydroxide ions that are formed during the electrochemical reaction. It has now been found that magnesium hydroxide formed from the magnesium salt and the hydroxide ions has only a very small solubility product. Accordingly, the magnesium hydroxide is withdrawn from the reaction equilibrium in the electrolyte fluid. Furthermore, magnesium is electrochemically neutral in its compounds, and also the precipitated hydroxide gel, which contains water, does not noticeably influence the ion migration in the electrolyte fluid.

According to the invention, it is possible to keep the pH of the electrolyte fluid constant, within a narrow range, even with an increasing formation of nitrogen. Since the hydrazoic acid formed from the azide at first is a weak and, at the same time, a highly volatile acid, the solution is adjusted to be weakly alkaline right from the start. The electrolyte fluid can have a pH between 8 and 10. Preferably, the pH is 8-9.5. While it is practical if the azide is formed from sodium azide, magnesium sulfate or magnesium perchlorate is preferably used as the magnesium salt. In order to guarantee a sufficient withdrawal, from the electrolyte fluid, of the hydroxide ions that are formed, the magnesium salt is added stoichiometrically or in excess, in proportion to the amount of azide.

The electrolyte fluid can have an anti-freeze agent added to it, which preferably is made up of ethylene glycol and/or dimethyl sulfoxide. In this way, proper operation of the gas cell is guaranteed even at low temperatures. To prevent a hydrogen over-voltage of the electrode forming the cathode, the electrolyte fluid can contain nickel sulfate as an additive. In accordance with the invention, the direct oxidation of azide is possible not only on electrodes made of precious metals, but also on electrodes made of steel, preferably chrome-nickel steel, or graphite. Alternatively, the electrodes can be made of plastic with embedded graphite powder.

The present invention is directed to a method for gas generation comprising:

(a) providing a circuit comprising a power source;

(b) connecting first and second electrodes to said circuit; and

(c) providing an aqueous electrolyte fluid between said electrodes comprising an azide having a formula XN3 for generation of a gas containing nitrogen in an electrochemical reaction, said electrolyte fluid containing a magnesium salt for chemical binding of hydroxide ions formed during the electrochemical reaction.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in connection with the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the drawings are designed for the purpose of illustration only and not as a definition of the limits of the invention.

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 shows the gas development from a pure sodium azide solution as a function of the content of free soda lye,

FIG. 2 shows the structure of a cell for gas generation, according to an embodiment of the invention,

FIG. 3 shows the influence of nickel on the cell voltage, and

FIG. 4 shows the cell voltage as a function of the cell current, at different temperatures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a diagram that represents the gas development from a pure sodium azide solution according to the state of the art, as a function of the content of free soda lye. The soda lye that is formed during the decomposition of the azide, according to the equation
2NaN3+2H2O→3N2+H2+2 NaOH
causes a clear reduction in the gas generation rate even in low concentrations. As a result, the effectiveness of the cell quickly drops with an increasing production of gas.

FIG. 2 schematically shows the structure of a cell for gas generation, according to an embodiment of the invention, which is particularly suitable for the operation of a lubricant dispenser. The cell has two electrodes 1, 1′ for being connected to a circuit 3 that contains a power source 2. Power source 2 can be made up of, for example, a commercially available battery button cell. An aqueous electrolyte fluid 4 containing sodium azide (NaN3) is located between the two electrodes 1, 1′, which fluid serves to generate a gas containing nitrogen (N2). To accommodate electrolyte fluid 4, a suitable receptacle or accommodation body 5 is provided, e.g. in the form of a porous body or a container provided with bores. A sponge, a nonwoven fabric, or a similar storage medium can also be disposed in the container. By means of the voltage applied, the following reaction is brought about at the anode 1:
2N3 →3N2+2e ,
while a corresponding reduction of hydrogen ions takes place at the cathode 1′:
2H++2e →H2
Since hydrogen ions are used up during the reaction, in accordance with the reaction equation that applies for cathode 1′, the concentration of the hydroxide ions clearly increases during the production of nitrogen. In order to avoid an accompanying increase of the pH in electrolyte fluid 4, a magnesium salt has been added to electrolyte fluid 4, for chemical binding of the hydroxide ions that are formed during the electrochemical reaction. Magnesium hydroxide has a very low solubility product. As a result, the magnesium hydroxide formed from the magnesium salt and the hydroxide ions is precipitated from electrolyte fluid 4 in accordance with the equation
Mg2++2OH→Mg(OH)2,
which is formed at cathode 1′. The electrolyte fluid according to the invention makes it possible to use conventional materials, such as steel, preferably chrome-nickel steel, or graphite for electrodes 1,1′. Alternatively, electrodes 1, 1′ can also be formed from plastic with embedded graphite powder.

EXAMPLE

The following electrolyte fluids were produced:

a) 15.0 g sodium azide,

    • 31.0 g magnesium perchlorate, content 83 wt.-%, aqueous,
    • 100 ml water.
    • b) Composition as in a), but with the addition of
      • 0.25 g nickel sulfate *6H2O.

The magnesium perchlorate binds the soda lye that is formed during the reaction, by forming magnesium hydroxide that has low solubility. This magnesium hydroxide is precipitated as a precipitate and is thereby withdrawn from the reaction equilibrium.

The use of magnesium perchlorate has the advantage that the electrolyte fluid remains liquid to below −20° C. As a result, anti-freeze agents need not be added, and the electrolyte fluid can easily be absorbed in a sponge. In this way, a simple separation of gas and electrolyte fluid, independent of the position, is present in practical operation. The disposal of a cell that contains the electrolyte fluid (see FIG. 2) can take place by means of incineration. The magnesium perchlorate is easily soluble in water, so that the electrolyte volume can be kept low. Even at temperatures of −20° C., the fluid demonstrates sufficient conductivity. Furthermore, perchloric acid is a stable compound that behaves as an inert substance under the stated conditions. The formation of elemental nitrogen takes place according to the following reaction equation:
2NaN3+Mg(ClO4)2+2H2O→3N2+H2+Mg(OH)2+2 NaClO4.

The solution is weakly alkaline, hygroscopic, odorless, not aggressive, and keeps without decomposing. 1 ml of this solution can yield 75 to 100 ml gas (N2 and H2), depending on the experimental conditions.

FIG. 3 illustrates the effect of an addition of nickel sulfate according to Example b) on the total cell voltage, as a function of the electrolysis current intensity. In this connection, graphite electrodes 10 mm×10 mm were used. FIG. 3 shows that by adding nickel sulfate, the hydrogen over-voltage of the electrode forming the cathode can be reduced, and a correspondingly lower cell voltage is established at the same cell current, in comparison with solution a).

FIG. 4 illustrates the progression of the cell voltage as a function of the current intensity, at +20° C. and −20° C. It is evident that lowering the temperature requires a higher cell voltage at the same cell current. The diagram shown in FIG. 4 was drawn up for the electrolyte fluid according to Example b), which still guarantees sufficiently great cell currents even at −20° C., thereby making use of the cell according to the invention possible.

While a few embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it is to be understood that many changes and modifications may be made thereunto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4167807 *May 15, 1978Sep 18, 1979Chloride Silent Power LimitedImprovement in making electrochemical cells employing an alkali metal and a solid electrolyte
US4250004 *Feb 25, 1980Feb 10, 1981Olin CorporationElectrodeposition
US4765874 *Dec 22, 1986Aug 23, 1988W. C. Heraeus GmbhLaminated electrode the use thereof
US5423454 *Aug 19, 1992Jun 13, 1995Lippman, Deceased; Lawrence G.Electrochemically generating a gas; using pressure og gas to dispense product
US5567287 *Jun 27, 1995Oct 22, 1996Ceramatec, Inc.Bladders
US6024860 *Aug 15, 1997Feb 15, 2000American Pacific CorporationElectrochemical decomposition of sodium azide in aqueous alkaline solutions form sodium hydroxide, ammonia, nitrogen, and oxygen
US6296756 *Sep 9, 1999Oct 2, 2001H20 Technologies, Ltd.Programming electrolytic cell to energize; oxygenation
US6299743 *Jul 14, 1999Oct 9, 2001A.T.S. Electro-Lube Holdings, Ltd/Electrolytic generation of nitrogen
US6689262 *Feb 21, 2003Feb 10, 2004Aqua Innovation, Inc.Microbubbles of oxygen
US6835298 *Feb 1, 2002Dec 28, 2004A.T.S. Electro-Lube Holdings, Ltd.Electrochemical transducers in fluid dispenser
US7306711 *Jun 15, 2004Dec 11, 2007Colin OlomanElectrolytic generation of nitrogen using azole derivatives
US7429315 *Jan 8, 2003Sep 30, 2008A.T.S. Electro-Lube Holdings Ltd.Electrolytic generation of nitrogen using azole derivatives
US20030019359 *Jun 5, 2002Jan 30, 2003Shah Dipak J.Method and apparatus for controlling air quality
US20040031695 *Aug 7, 2001Feb 19, 2004Colin OlomanGas generators comprising electrolytic cells and transducers activated by gases; mechanical energy for fluid dispensers
DE3532335A1Sep 11, 1985Mar 12, 1987Winsel AugustGalvanic cell for generating hydrogen or oxygen
DE69226770T2Apr 24, 1992Apr 15, 1999Orlitzky AntonGasgenerator
WO1992019571A1Apr 24, 1992Nov 12, 1992Orlitzky AntonGas generator
Classifications
U.S. Classification205/617, 204/278
International ClassificationC25B9/00, C25B1/00
Cooperative ClassificationC25B1/00
European ClassificationC25B1/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 14, 2013FPAYFee payment
Year of fee payment: 4